Read His Words Before Ours!
An unfamiliar voice.
I dropped to my knees.
Before I knew what happened, all went dark. My eyes were open, but I saw nothing.
All was night around me, but somehow, everything inside was lit up.
That was the day Jesus of Nazareth stopped me in my tracks.
It was the day He became my Lord, my Light, my salvation. (Psalm 27:1)
My traveling companions led this blind man into the city because that’s where Jesus told me to go. For three days I saw nothing, ate nothing, and drank nothing until a stranger, Ananias, was sent by God to restore my sight.
Light held a new meaning for me now.
Having spent time, a long time, studying Scripture and experiencing community, I began boldly preaching in the synagogues that Jesus indeed was the Son of God. Barnabas, a true brother, trusted what God had done in me, and helped the apostles to believe this too.
The Light begged to be shared!
Everywhere I preached, some believed, and many hated, spurning me, forcing me to flee for my life just as I had once made others do. The more I shared, the more persecuted I was, but the more pressing the mission of sharing Light began. I was coming to truly understand that I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20) That life is the same light that continues transforming me and others as I preach Christ crucified!
Barnabas and I, like fellow torch bearers, eagerly carried this news to many areas including Antioch, Cyprus, and cities throughout Asia. We so desperately wanted our Jewish brothers to understand a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ, and that even we ourselves have believed in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 2:16) Faith made possible by Light entering the world. Faith for which I carry this torch, no matter the cost. (John 1:4-5)
It quickly became apparent that the degree of rejoicing and freedom many brothers and sisters were experiencing would also be equally matched with severe opposition against our bodies, our plans, our message – ultimately, we knew, against Jesus Christ.
Yet, the Spirit of God strengthened us for each mission,
each task, each opportunity to preach this good news.
In fact, we couldn’t contain it!
The gospel of Jesus Christ was a fire set ablaze by the Spirit of God
to build His church – His people!
Joy in our hearts fueled our eagerness to lay down our lives to be a part of this incorruptible flame.
So, I pressed on that the message given to me when I opened my mouth would make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:19). And oh how I loved the church Christ was growing! They became to me like children, so that whether I was present with them or apart, it was my joy to teach, instruct, correct, discipline, and pray that their joy in Christ might be full!
The Sovereign Spirit led me all the way to Rome, and to eventual imprisonment, yet by the grace of God this did not limit my ability to preach the gospel – it only made it flourish!
For this Light shines in the darkness, and darkness cannot overpower it! (John 1:5)
The churches throughout Asia were growing while experiencing intense persecution. Some speculate that this suffering will squelch us, but I know better.
The more we carry the Torch, the stronger the flame will grow.
I fervently wrote while on house arrest, urging them to hold firm to the word of life, so that I could boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run or labor for nothing. But even if I was poured out as a drink offering on the sacrificial service of their faith, I was glad and rejoiced with all of them. In the same way I so desired that they would also be glad and rejoice with me! (Philippians 2:16-18).
I desired that my imprisonment would be a source of encouragement to the saints in their own suffering. I boldly reminded them to rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4), and that this would be possible for us as we acknowledged that to live is Christ, and to die would be gain (Philippians 1:21).
Carrying the light of Christ is worth it, infinitely more so than the “meaning” my former life brought me. It’s worth it because Christ is my life. (Colossians 3:4)
Five times I received the forty lashes minus one from the Jews. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, and dangers among false brothers; toil and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and without clothing. Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:24-28).
I have certainly lost much
But this I fully know and believe that everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:7)
But, the treasure of the Light, the honor of carrying it, is worth everything, even my life.
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